What would be your first words to someone who had forced you to spend the night in a den of lions? For the Old Testament prophet Daniel, the words were, “Oh king live forever!” This phrase is the next one-liner we are featuring in our series One-liners from the Bible.
Daniel in the lion’s den is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. It features jealousy, treachery and, of course, a den of lions. Daniel was in exile in Babylon along with his fellow Israelites. Even though they had conquered the land of Israel and carried its people into captivity the Babylonians figured some of the Israelite captives might be good civil servants so they let them serve in the Babylonian government.
Daniel distinguished himself so much that he quickly rose to a high ranking in the Babylonian government. This caused his fellow officials to become jealous so they started looking for a way to get rid of Daniel.
They finally decided that the only way they could get to Daniel was through his faith. So they devised a plan that they thought would work. They convinced the king to issue an edict that for the next 30 days people throughout the realm could only pray to the king. What self-respecting king wouldn’t want such and edict to be proclaimed? If anyone was caught praying to someone other than the king they would be thrown to the lions.
Daniel heard the edict and proceeded to head home and start praying, not to the king but to God. His fellow officials spied on him and caught him praying to God and brought this to the attention of the king. The king was stuck. He liked Daniel and did not want to see him die but the edict was pretty clear and the evidence was indisputable.
So to the lions Daniel went. But the Lord sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions and Daniel survived. The next morning the king anxiously went to the mouth of the lions den and called out to Daniel.
Daniel responded with the words quoted above, “O king live forever!” Most people, including me would not have started with such words.
As it turns out, Daniel is not the only one to use this phrase. It is used by others in the book of Daniel. It appears it was like a standard greeting for the king in those days.
Lutherans have always held to a doctrine of the two kingdoms. There is the kingdom of the left which has to do with earthly things and the kingdom on the right which has to do with heavenly things. This one-liner of Daniel’s encompasses them both.
Daniel’s fervent wish was that the king, even though he had thrown him into the lions den, would live forever.
As Christian citizens that is our wish as well. We wish the Lord would bless us with good leaders who serve well in this world but who would also be joining us in eternity through faith in Jesus. We pray that God would give us the faith of Daniel so that, even if the authorities treat us unfairly, we would still want them eternally blessed.
Oh and, in a classic case of turning the tables, the king had the officials who had gotten Daniel thrown into the lions den thrown into the lions den with their families. They did not fare nearly as well with the lion as Daniel did.